Helpful Tips For Downsizing: PART 1


collect memories

You may be thinking “I already live in a tiny house,” or “I’m not moving anywhere,” or “I don’t need to

Even if you’re not preparing to downsize, the ideas in this 3-part series can help anyone that may need a little inspiration to examine the clutter in their lives. These ideas can be applied to your own home, your work space, or even someone else’s home.

Preparing to downsize allows for greater flexibility in the future. Maybe you’ll receive an offer for an amazing job opportunity which might require you to relocate your home. Maybe you’ll decide you want to start traveling. Maybe you’ll encounter an unfortunate circumstance that requires you to move out of your current living space in a hurry. If you’ve taken a recent inventory of ALL of your belongings, then packing suddenly seems far less daunting. You’ll have already done the hardest part. There’s no decisions left about what to take and what to leave. You already know you want to keep everything.


Now that you know my story, I’d like to share a few things that helped me prepare to move out of a 2- bedroom house in California, and onto a 42′ boat in Florida in just two short months.

If you are planning on relocating to a tiny house or just a smaller living space, my first bit of advice is to start early. Start before you actually NEED to downsize.

Peter and I began downsizing before we even made a decision to buy a boat. We had talked about moving to Central America and traveling abroad. With no real plans set in stone, we began selling our largest belongings on Craigslist. Furniture, motorcycles, snowboards, exercise equipment and tools all sold like hotcakes making us a decent chunk of cash to save for our adventure. We got rid of everything we knew we wouldn’t need. Then, an unexpected series of events required us to move out of our home. We found a short term lease within walking distance of my work and got rid of as much junk as we could before moving.

When we moved into that small two-bedroom house, we didn’t spend much time making it feel cozy. We kept it simple and functional while focusing on continuing to downsize. The second bedroom became a ‘stockroom’ for the items we were selling on Craigslist. After making a decision to buy a boat, we found one almost immediately and the clock began ticking to kick things into high gear.

What a relief it was to already have most of the work done! We spent the next two months downsizing with a focused approach, thankful that we had gotten a jump on it months earlier.


When actually ready to start the process, the first step I like to recommend is to rediscover the things you already own. It’s reassuring to know you don’t have to do anything more than take an inventory. Don’t worry about deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. That will come later.

  • Start small – It’s important to start small and avoid getting overwhelmed. Whether you live in 5,000 sf or 400 sf, sorting through your belongings can be scary. Tackle one thing at a time: a drawer, a closet, a bookshelf, a box in the garage.


  • Give yourself plenty of time – Commit to an hour in the evening or a rainy Sunday morning. Keep a leisurely pace to prevent feelings of anxiety, which could lead to getting fed up and abandoning the project all together. Give yourself at least 3 months before a planned relocation if you can. Tackling one area at a time may take awhile, but it may be just what you need to get the job done.
  • Have patience – Opening old boxes and uncovering a lifetime of memories can invoke emotions you might not be prepared to feel. Some people build up clutter and stuff closets to the ceiling simply because of fear or anxiety of bringing up old memories. Remember to have patience with yourself and only do as much as you feel comfortable with.
  • Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Invite a friend over for moral support or have a family member share the discoveries with you. Another option is to hire a professional to come in and guide you through the process. There are actually Professional Organizers that do this kind of thing for a living! I’m not the only one that has a weird passion for cleaning out junk :)
  • Sort it out – I’m a visual person and I think in terms of categories. Dig out all of the magazines in your house and put them all in one pile. Use different rooms or corners of your house to pile up similar items like winter clothes, Tupperware, holiday decorations, photos, magazines, 25 highlighters, 61 blue ballpoint pens or your collection of 12 coffee mugs. This can often put things in perspective when you see them all in one place.

dogs and downsizing

  • Reminisce – Get excited about that old hat you found that had been stuffed in the back of your closet for 10 years. Flip through High School yearbooks and reach out to someone you’ve been meaning to get in contact with. Share old memories with your loved ones.
  • Who’s IS that? – Maybe you’ll discover things that aren’t even yours like a long lost book you borrowed from a friend, or a pair of shoes that someone left at your house, or even a pair of earrings from an ex-girlfriend!
  • EWW! – If you live in a damp climate you may find that mold or rust has rendered some of your belongings useless. Old boxes can sometimes uncover a dead mouse, rotten food or other creepy-crawly things that need to be thoroughly cleaned out.
  • Interests – You might discover that your interests have changed. A toy collection or vintage fishing reel collection may not seem so cool anymore. You might discover a favorite item from your childhood that you had forgotten about, or you might rediscover a hobby you used to have many moons ago. I’ve recently decided to begin ‘collecting memories, not things.’ This idea really struck me as I stumbled upon the quote (borrowed from SeaUs Sailing) while reflecting back on our last year of amazing adventures. We live in a tiny house barely big enough to carry the basic essentials, yet we’ve begun a collection of precious memories big enough to fill the ocean. What a concept!
  • Assessment – Start thinking about what each of these discoveries mean to you. How long have you had it? Where did it come from? How much did it cost? Do you still use it?
  • Smile – Most importantly, have fun! These are your belongings. Be proud of the things you have acquired or laugh at yourself for holding onto silly items. This can be a really fun exercise if you let it. Mentally preparing yourself for downsizing can also oddly enough set things in motion for good things to come. Eliminating stressful clutter in your life creates opportunities for experiences that bring you joy!

Check back next week to learn how to make a decision about what to keep and what to get rid of in PART 2 of this Helpful Tips for Downsizing series.

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

5 Effective Ways To Establish Community

Last week we talked about the meaning of community. We decided that community truly is (or to the best of my understanding) any group sharing something in common.

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Dutihl of Tiny House Giant Journey.

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Dutilh of Tiny House Giant Journey.

My wife and I both grew up in relatively stable households. Although both sets of our parents had seen divorce, remarriage, and (eventually) blended family units, we never felt like we were social outcasts. We both had opportunities to go on family vacations, our holidays were full of people coming and going, and we were encouraged to communicate and share in a number of situations. We both knew community and knew that it offered some key elements:

  • Happiness. Hardly a day went by that we didn’t laugh and tell jokes and sing songs. Smiles were commonplace in our homes.
  • Perspective. We realized quickly that the world didn’t revolved around us and that there were others to consider.
  • Encouragement. Our parents participated in PTAs, scouts, church, etc. They rallied behind us when we hit home runs and when we struck out. Most of all they were there to remind us that tomorrow was another day.
  • Responsibility. We both learned early on that we had to work to keep up our houses and that even the smallest of efforts was needed to keep things running smoothly.
  • Accountability. To be successful you need to know that for every action there is a reaction.

It has become disheartening these last few years though as we have seen our nieces and nephews, friends and relatives, and others disregard the need for community. With the advent of the Internet and with the unbelievable growth of social media we hardly have to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. Retail locations have self-checkout (no baggers any longer). Banks allows you to deposit checks be TXTing a photo. Trips to grandmothers house have been replaced with Facetime conversations. Donations and tithing can be done online with linked bank accounts. Even vacations can be planned down to the meal with online reservations.

But that does not mean that community is not necessary. In fact in his 1887 thesis Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies outlined two types of community or more specifically human association. The first is Gemeinschaft which is translated to mean ‘community’ and the second is Gessellschaft which translates to ‘society’ or ‘association.’ As he explores these two Tönnies makes a point to say that no group is wholly Gemeinschaft or wholly Gessellschaft. In fact, he details why humans need a healthy mix of the two. His writing though is is theoretical though and lacks a practical application. Not once does he answer the question of how to obtain community without sacrificing “me” time or upsetting the G und G balance. Hopefully these 5 ways will help you:

  1. Faith-Based. If you are spiritual or religious consider joining a group filled with like-minded people. A number of RV parks offer non-denominational chapel services as well as some small groups or Bible studies. You can also find a local church while on the road that welcomes you and gives you a familiar feeling. As a tiny houser who is parked you may want to check out local churches, synogogues, temples, or the like. If nothing else it will be worth the coffee talk before hand and the handshakes after.
  2. Munchies. Make food. Invite others over to share in it. Have a happy hour at your house or in your backyard. “Breaking bread” is a fantastic way to meet and converse with people.
  3. Presence. Take on a roll of being a friend who others know they can count on or even call up to talk to. It may inconvenience you at time but it is such a simple way to engage. You can also check out local mentoring options. I know at our local public library there is a group of reading mentors who once a week volunteer with other adults to read to school-age children. Don’t leave these things up to someone else. It may never get done!
  4. Network. Networking has become such a corporate term in the last few years that many of us have forgotten that the definition is – quite simply – a group or system of interconnected people or things. It is being part of a group of like-minded folks. Events are just the physical manifestation of those networks. I immediately think of the tiny house Meetup groups held in Boston, Boise, and south Florida, where like-minded folks can meet each other and talk tiny despite their other affiliations. From these sort of events are born authentic friendships.
  5. Family Tree. A large part of the tiny house life and the nomad life is spent focusing on relationships. It is about cultivating the love you have for your family and the love they share with you. I can remember quite well when my parents stopped being just my folks and started also being my friends. That meant a great deal to me and to them and we learned to cherish each other thereby increasing the value of our time together.
  6. BONUS: Walking. Seems simple enough, right? Put one foot in front of the other. But when you commit to walking, be it your neighborhood, your campground, or even a local park, you are more than likely going to encounter others. If you add talking to your walking you may just end up walking away with a new community!

In what ways to do you work to increase community? How does it make you feel? Can you imagine a life without community?

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Establishing Community In the Tiny House World

As long as I can remember the question has been posed on Facebook pages, in FB groups, on blogs, in real-time conversations, and in workshops.

If a tiny house community existed would you want to live there? What do you think of living in community? 

Bikers sitting around a campfire in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana. Image by Heinrich van den Berg  / Getty Images.

Bikers sitting around a campfire in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana. Image by Heinrich van den Berg / Getty Images.

The answers of course, as varied as the people responding with them. Overall though I feel as if I have seen more people align with the notion of living on their own slice of Earth than living in community. And allow me – as has become tradition – to note that the phrase “tiny house” does not necessarily denote a tiny house trailer in the style of a Tumbleweed Fencl, but rather any sort of non-conventional, small space, established as a domicile.

When my wife and I first established residency in rural eastern North Carolina we did so knowing it was a bit of an isolated environment. Afterall, we had collectively lived in 9 countries and 16 or so states including Paris, Kona, Israel, etc. We had even both lived on the road as well out of backpacks of 3000 cubic inches. Part of the allure of the countryside though was for the “breathing room” we felt we had been missing. We also wanted to do a little homesteading and micro-farming. By about the third month in NC though I began to realize there was a huge difference between the aforementioned “breathing room” and utter isolation. Sometimes days would pass where we would see only each other. At the time we hadn’t established our legal address on the land so we didn’t even have the benefit of seeing a postal carrier. If it weren’t for the Interwebs we may have been little more than exiles in a foreign land. To have interaction with even family members we typically had to travel by car a minimum of 17 miles one way. That inability to connect quickly led to doubt, boredom, concern, mild depression, and even resentment and then manifest itself in weight gain, stress headaches, short tempers, and complacency. By the sixth month I was realizing how utterly important community and interaction is to the human experience. Anthony J. D’Angelo – teacher, leader, and curriculum developer – is quoted as saying “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” I had ceased to care and therefore I had ceased to search for a sense of community.

In order to escape the funk I realized something had to give so I dug in deep to researching the notion of community. I was wanting answers to the tough (and perhaps unanswerable questions) of:

  • What is a community?
  • Who comprises the community?
  • What is the history of the community?
  • What are the needs of a community?
  • What are the relationships within the community?

After what seemed like a combination of books, articles, blogs posts, and the like I was still stuck on the primary question.


While we traditionally think of a community as the people in a given geographical location, the word can really refer to any group sharing something in common. This might refer to smaller geographic areas — a neighborhood, a housing project or development, a rural area — or to a number of other possible communities within a larger, geographically-defined community. Community can be established by race or ethnicity, professional associations, religious beliefs, cultural notions, and even shared backgrounds. In fact, if you are reading this post and following this blog chances are you feel connected to the tiny house community. You have daily exchanges with others in the community. Personally I identify most with the Christian community, the tiny house community, the RV and fulltime family community, and the Florida State Alumni community. Those are the groups I find myself wanting to spend time and energy with and around. Community doesn’t have to be insulatory though. Various communities can certainly overlap.

An African-American,  Catholic, art teacher, for example, might see himself (or be seen by others) as a member of the black, arts, and/or education communities, as well as of a particular faith community. An Italian woman may become an intensely involved member of the ethnic and cultural community of her Jewish husband. I don’t think a person belongs to just one community when observed under the microscope. And a person should not feel the pressure to do so.

In those first months of tiny house living I was missing the larger picture. I was trying to desperately to take my whole existence and make others accept it. I was making little to no attempt to become part of my new “life.” The result was I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. I was removed from my interest communities and my geographic one.  I was a square peg trying to force myself into a round hole. I was missing an understanding of the community I had moved to and how the new relationship could be mutually beneficial.


My new home was – and still is – a unique place along the eastern seaboard mixing the farming world with the beach world. Jeans are formal wear. Flip flops are sacred. Wal-mart is the community meeting hall and the most predominant landmark for travel. Johnny Cash is on par with the 4th Beatle and the 13th disciple. My community is full of folks who can put their hands in the dirt and tell you what will grow and what won’t, what the pH level is, and how to improve it all. My people can make a feast of cornmeal and anything that once had a pulse and can find fresh fish in a puddle leftover from an afternoon shower. They are kind but like most groups, stick to their own kind. Understanding this was paramount to understanding community. Once I began to embrace them they began to embrace me and we quickly formed a friendship. I had found community and again found peace.

What about you? Do you value community? How have you found community in your environment? 

Next week I hope to talk about 5 Effective Ways to Become Part of a Community. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]